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An ancient history

An ancient history

The history of Verdun goes way back before 1916 and is, in fact, rooted in the depths of time. The Episcopal city has always been a hub of territorial politics which on many occasions overstepped its authority.

An eventful history

Although Verdun became known worldwide in the aftermath of the horrific Battle that took place here in 1916, its eventful history began way back in the Palaeolithic Age, relics of which, including arrowheads and flint tools, can now be found at the Musée de la Princerie.

Since its very beginnings, the history of Verdun has been marked by the major European civilisation movements and it was here, in 843, that the Treaty of Verdun was signed, thus shaping the features of modern Europe. During the 16th Century, the Kingdom of France annexed the Three Bishoprics (Metz, Toul and Verdun) and Henri II came to Verdun on 12th June 1552, a situation that had been ratified by the Treaties of Westphalia in 1648. The City was to witness many more such memorial episodes during the Revolution, when Governor Beaurepaire chose suicide over surrender, under the empire and during the war of 1870.

Battle of Verdun

A strategic position

Verdun was always a region to be defended at all costs, the many fortifications surrounding the city evidence of the level of military activity it has witnessed throughout its history. Attila, Clovis, the Kings of France and even Germanic sovereigns all besieged Verdun at some point, but this strategic position close to the borders and on the banks of the Meuse River also helped increase the city’s economic and cultural influence. During the Middle Ages, traders from Verdun were known right across Europe and with goods being transported from Northern Europe to Southern Europe via the port of Verdun, the city’s canals and markets soon became commercial hubs.

Fortifications at Verdun